Sal column mug color

Dear W.C.,

I am a visiting nurse for senior citizens. I have been doing this for the past five years, and in that time, I have come upon many senior citizens living in less-than-ideal conditions. Most of these seniors can be helped through the services that the state or county provides, but some just seem to fall through the cracks.

One of these has come to my attention recently when I paid a post-surgical visit. The senior citizen I am referring to is a man in his late 70s. He recently underwent hip-replacement surgery. When I arrived, I was shocked by his living conditions. He lives in a mobile home park in the country, and I found his trailer to be in need of some repairs to make it safe. He has plumbing issues, broken windows, his front door does not close properly, and his bed was in terrible condition.

He is a widow, and after speaking with him, I found he does not have any family left to care for him. I talked to him about his living conditions, and he admitted he could use some help. I provided him with information for programs that would benefit him. I also told him about The Time is Now to Help, and he agreed to allow me to contact you in his behalf. If you are able to help this man, please contact me and I will provide you with his contact information. I pray you are able to help this senior man live a more safe and healthy life.

Dear Readers,

This year, we have helped many senior citizens living in less-than-ideal conditions. I called the visiting nurse, and we were in agreement that some of our seniors do fall through the cracks and are not receiving the help they should. After speaking with the nurse who had referred the senior man to our charity, I was happy to hear about the services she had already spoken to him about. Since writing the letter, she told me he was now receiving Meals on Wheels. I knew there was still more that needed to be done to improve this senior man’s living conditions.

The nurse actually cried in relief when I told her I would be paying a visit. She said: “I have been so worried about this gentleman. It will be such a relief knowing he will be looked into.”

I find many caring nurses in our communities who go out of their way to help their patients.

The same day, I arrived at the mobile home to find the conditions described in the nurse’s letter. I took a walk around the outside of the structure and actually found it to be in good shape for its age. That was the problem: It was very old, and other than touch-ups I noted here and there, it was still 30 years old. The front door was ajar, and there were cracked single-pane glass windows. The nurse had said how the senior man had told her he had done the upkeep on the trailer himself for years until his recent fall and hip surgery. I was sure he would be unable to do the remaining repairs on his own.

I walked to the door and knocked lightly. I heard a bark from what sounded like a small dog. The senior man pushed open the door that was wedged shut. The little dog bounded out and barked at me like his little protector. The senior man shushed the dog and called him back. I watched as he struggled to bend and pick up the little dog while holding onto his walker. I offered to help, but he said: “No, thank you. I have to do these things myself, and this little guy here can be a little protective.”

I couldn’t help but smile at the little dog as he made sure I knew he was watching my every move.

I introduced myself to the senior man and his dog, whose name was Tiny. It seemed an appropriate name for a little dog with a big personality. Once Tiny and I met, he calmed down and seemed to accept my presence in his surroundings. The senior man finally put Tiny down, and he proceeded to follow me as I made my way into the trailer. It was a small single-wide, but the interior was in good shape.

There was one bedroom in the back, and the kitchen and living area towards the front. The kitchen seemed to have plumbing issues, with a dripping faucet and bucket under the sink. I also noted water damage where it had leaked through the cracked windows above the sink and in the bedroom. The front door was drafty and very difficult for the senior man to open and close. I stepped in to lift it back into place.

The senior man and I chatted while I moved around the trailer. He followed with his walker, pointing out where he had made repairs and areas where he had not been able to repair. At first glance, I thought the best solution would be for the man to move into an apartment, but it was easy to see the love and even pride he had for his small home. Even with him voicing his desire to stay in his trailer, I tried to break it to him that it might not be possible for us to do the repairs he needed. I knew I needed an expert opinion, so I made a call to get a quote on the list of items that needed to be fixed in order for the man to be able to continue to live in the trailer. The man looked down sadly as he waited for me to complete my phone call. Then when I hung up, he said: “I lived in apartments with my wife when she was alive. Then we bought this trailer together and lived here happily for 20 years until she passed from heart failure almost nine years ago now. I know it’s not much, but we loved it and I still do. It’s all mine, and the lot rent is cheaper than any apartment I could rent.”

I asked to see his budget, and looked it over carefully. He was living very frugally, but every penny was accounted for. He did not have extra money for any extra expenses such as a new bed or repairs. With the energy savings afforded by fixing his leaking plumbing and installing more energy efficient windows and a door, his utility costs should go down as well.

We continued to chat while we waited for one of our trusted repair men we use to come by to take a look. In that time, I learned that the senior man had outlived both his wife and his daughter, and was just as the nurse had said — alone. We talked about his fall from a ladder while working on his trailer, and the injury to his hip. He was determined to make a full recovery and be able to walk again without his walker. He told me about his calls to receive additional help, and how they were proceeding.

I checked his refrigerator for food and saw some of the small cartons of milk and fruit that came with Meals on Wheels. He confessed that sometimes he ran short on food, and even for pet food for Tiny, saying, “At least I get that one meal a day that I can share with Tiny.”

Hearing that news, I texted one of our volunteers and asked if they would be available to make a food and pet food delivery. They replied that they would be on their way soon. After checking the small kitchen, I looked into the utility room and made notes about a furnace check-up, since winter was coming soon.

We heard Tiny barking, and then a knock on the broken door. The senior man made his way to the door, again shushing Tiny, and I went ahead of him to pry open the front door. The man I had called for a quote on repairs stood outside the door with a clipboard in hand. He had already looked outside and noted the lack of a skirt to keep the cold out, and some broken pipes due to freezing. He also had noted some electrical that should be repaired. He came inside, and I showed him the front door and the broken windows. I also pointed out the furnace and leaking faucets. Once he was done with his appraisal of the condition of the trailer, he determined it was all fixable and he could do it for a very reasonable price. The look of relief on the senior man’s face was obvious. I thanked the repairman for his time, and told him I would be in touch after I finished my evaluation.

The senior man and I sat down again to talk, and after careful consideration, I determined the best place for this man at this time was his mobile home. With the repairs we would have completed, he could live there comfortably, economically and safely. When I went over the list of assistance we would be providing, the senior man began to cry. He tried to hide his tears and look away, but I saw them and reached over for his hand. He held my hand for a minute, saying: “Thank you. God Bless you, and thank you.”

Just then, we heard another knock on the door, and Tiny barked again. The senior man said: “That Tiny is my little watchdog. He is such good company. I don’t know what I would do without him.”

He began to get up, but I told him to stay seated, I would get the door. This time, I quieted Tiny as I pried open the broken door, wondering how the senior man ever did this on his own. The volunteer stood there with bags of food and pet food. I took the items from the volunteer, and then had her come inside to meet the senior man and Tiny. She bent down to talk to Tiny, and after offering him a treat, he was soon her friend, too. Before leaving, she told the senior man more about herself and why she volunteered. Then she wrote down her phone number and told him to call if he ever needed anything from the store or anything else he may need. When she left, the senior man said: “I did not expect all this from one letter written by my nurse. It is a little overwhelming.”

I told him, “I hope not too overwhelming; we are only just starting.”

I was relieved to see the senior man and Tiny sharing some rotisserie chicken and salads when I left the trailer. The senior man was much happier then when I had arrived. I had work scheduled to be completed on his trailer, and a bed scheduled to be delivered after I saw an old, worn, sagging mattress. I also left him some gift cards for food, toiletries, sheets, a blanket and pet food, so he would not run short any time soon.

Two weeks later, I received a call from his visiting nurse and she tearfully shared with me her gratitude for all we were doing for the senior man. She told me about the new windows already installed, and the workers who were under the trailer when she had arrived for his scheduled home visit. She mentioned how happy she had been to find food in the refrigerator, and even had noticed the new bed that had been delivered. She was excited to tell me how the volunteer had even offered to take Tiny to a much needed vet visit. We both were happy to hear about the changes we together made in this senior gentleman’s life, changes made possible by all of you.

Thank you to our wonderful volunteers and all of you for making our good works possible.

Every day we receive requests for our assistance. In many communities there is no or little assistance for those living in the pains of poverty. People of every age are suffering in silence as they live without proper shelter, food, utilities and other daily necessities. Thank you and God bless you for all we accomplish together to ease these pains of poverty.

Health and happiness, love and God bless everyone, Sal

Please help: There are many coming to us in desperation. Our good fellow creations need our compassion. Together we make a big difference. Make checks payable to: The Time Is Now to Help, P.O. Box 1, Lake Geneva, WI 53147. The Time Is Now to Help is a federally recognized 501©3 charitable organization licensed in the states of Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax deductible, itemized thank you receipt showing how your donation provided assistance for the poverty stricken.

A very special thank you: Barnabas Donors, Rhoades Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, Paul Ziegler, Ziegler Charitable Foundation, Kunes Country Auto Group, Kune’s Family Foundation, Lake Geneva Area Realty, Dick and Jean Honeyager, William Wright, The Sowers House, Michael Glass, James Dyer, Lawrence R. Happ, Neil Diercksmeier, Excel Family Chiropractic and Wellness, Jacob and Janice Friesema, Direct Contract Cleaning, Gerald and Marilyn Wilkin, Robert and Patricia Davis, Daniel and Linda Crego, John and Rita Race, Ellen Flanagan, June Davidsen, Rita’s Wells Street Salon, Katherine Flaherty, Gregory Swanson, Jeanne Allen, Phil Allen, Karin Slayton, Donald Bailey, William Davit, William Norton, Paula Harris, Duane DeYoung, Teresa Hurley and Elaine Rau.

Memorials: Sally Rayner in memory of her husband Lawrence Rayner Jr. Toby and Shari Steivang in memory of Marilynn Dyer.

Prayer chain: The power of prayer and positive thoughts comes from the true healer, our Lord answering our prayers. Please pray for healing for the following people: Talyn, Mike, Susan, Sylvia, Richard, Jennifer, Jayden, Maria C., Alex, Lily, Kaitlyn, Sheila, Rhonda, Deda Lee, Marilyn, Helen, Dennis, Mary, Joseph, Sal, Jordan, Jean, Tom L., Arabelle J., Dr. Peter and Alyce.